Friday, July 26, 2013

Tait, Arthur Fitzwilliam

The Reprimand (a rural girl "warning" a deer)
oil on canvas
91 x 127.5 cm
Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY, USA

Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (1819 - 1905) was a British born American artist who was one of the nineteenth century’s most popular painters. He is known mostly for his paintings of wildlife. He was able to instill in his genre paintings a strong sense of drama and conflict. Although he never traveled further West than Chicago, he acquired a reputation as a frontier artist, painting scenes of hunters and wildlife, mainly from his experiences in upstate New York.

Tait was born in Liverpool, England. At eight years old, because his father went bankrupt he was sent to live with relatives in Lancaster. It is during that time that he became attached to animals. By his mid-teens, he was working at Agents, an art dealer in Manchester.  In his spare time, he taught himself how to paint by copying works at the Royal Institute.

During the late 1840s he became aware of the Americas while attending an exhibition in Paris. He immigrated to the United States in 1850, where he established a small painting camp in the Adirondack Mountains, becoming a proficient marksman and woodsman, to paint during summer. He focused much of his art on capturing the drama of a man against nature.  His style, which combined misty, atmospheric landscape settings with detailed renderings of human figures, reminds one of that of George Caleb Bingham. The period 1850 to 1860 was a prolific time for him.  His paintings were accepted by Easterners as definitive views of life on the frontier. In 1858 he was elected to full membership of the Academy.

He was identified with the art life of New York until his death at Yonkers, New York. He painted barnyard fowl and wild birds as well as sheep and deer, with great dexterity, and reproductions of his minute panels of chickens had an enormous vogue. His style did not change from 1860 until death in 1905;  he continued to work in the style which he had found successful.